Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Production Notes 1

Norbert ideally likes to have 2 hours to prepare for a performance. He likes to go through every line and to think about it again.

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Norbert ideally likes to have 2 hours to prepare for a performance. He likes to go through every line and to think about it again. Before and during the performance Norbert likes to ‘get into’ character by staying isolated from the other actors. Most of the actors chat to each other in the green room in between scenes, but Norbert likes to use the time to concentrate on the next scene of the play.

Before Act 3 Norbert always goes down to the stage to listen to Marcello Magni, who plays Launcelot Gobbo. During the interval Marcello entertains the audience and Norbert uses the sound of their laughter to deepen his sense of Shylock's depression – others are happy while Shylock is alienated from their enjoyment. Norbert also goes back stage to listen before the beginning of Act 4. At this point in the play a Christian song is sung, listening to the song helps Norbert to place Shylock in a Christian world and gives him the impetus with which to enter the trial scene.

Before each performance Norbert tries to think of ways in which he can make that performance better than the last. He is particularly concerned to break down barriers between actor and audience, he also looks for new ways to communicate with the audience and to use their responses in his performance.

The reactions of the audience to the character of Shylock vary greatly from performance to performance. Sometimes Norbert has to fight against an openly racist reaction to the character of Shylock – as they hiss at him and cheer when he is defeated in the trial scene. Audience reactions in this scene can be quite extreme – Shylock is either booed or cheered. Sometimes these extreme reactions lead to debate between audience members.

After one performance some members of the audience were so distressed by the negative reactions of other audience members to Shylock that they waited to talk to Norbert after the show.

Norbert feels that at present the Christians in the play appear as very attractive characters and that the negative elements of these characters have not been developed in this production.

Norbert is now concentrating on to trying to present Shylock's internal conflict to an audience. He feels that Shylock would like to show mercy to Antonio, but he also wants justice for himself - the trial is his opportunity to obtain what he views as justice. Norbert would like the audience to understand this conflict and to show them that the decision to pursue his bond is a difficult one for Shylock. Ultimately, however, it is the only course of action he feels is left open to him.

As the season progresses the line "For suff’rance is the badge of all our tribe" (Act 1 Scene 3) is becoming increasingly important to Norbert's portrayal of Shylock – it is now at the centre of his performance. Norbert is now working to ensure that in every performance he offers something ‘fresh’ to the audience.

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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